An Abduction

The Presentments and Informations by Grand Juries in the eighteenth century give quite a lot of information about abductions. These documents do not, it may be presumed, contain all the crimes that were committed, but they may be regarded as containing the most conspicuous. One of interest, which occurred in Galway, is not among the Presentments in the State Paper Office. It was told to W. H. Lecky by Henry Ward, Q.C., Crown Counsel of the County of Galway, and concerns the daughter of Dean Dudley Persse, Dean of Kilmacduagh.

The Dean's father John Persse, had come over from England during the Cromwellian War. Having renounced Catholicism he became a member of the Established Church. By the first of those grants made by Charles II to Dean Persse under date 15th August,1677, he received 64 acres in the County Roscommon and 404 in the County Galway. On the 3rd August, 1678 an additional grant of 66 acres in the barony of Leitrim, County Galway, was made to him by letters patent. A still more extensive and valuable grant of lands was made by James II, containing 2,590 acres profitable and unprofitable in the baronies of Longford, Clonmacknowen, Leitrim, Loughrea, Dunkellin, and Kiltartan. Of these extensive grants 1,100 acres were situated in the baronies of Loughrea, Dunkellin and Kiltartan. They included "the mansion-house at Cregarosta," which Dean Persse used as his res 1703.

A major in King William's army quartered at Loughrea, formed in attachment to a rich heiress, but was refused by the father, on the ground that having nothing but his commission, he could settle no jointure upon her. Soon after, "a previous arrangement having been made," the major surrounded the Dean's house at Cregarosta with a party of horsemen - the tradition of the county says that they were a company of the regiment he commanded - and peremptorily demanded the hand of the lady. It was stated that he threatened, if his demand was not complied with, to decapitate her father, but this assertion was afterwards denied. The lady, who very probably knew something of his intention, on being questioned, declared herself ready to be married. The Dean, yielding to necessity, performed the ceremony and the property so acquired remained in the family of the bridegroom until comparatively recent times.

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